It feels like every couple of days some new terrifying aspect of our New Normal Coronavirus/COVID-19 Life hits me.  I left this comment on a friends’ blog earlier today:

Two week stockpiling is difficult. We keep a lot of food in the freezers generally, but probably not a balanced diet for two weeks. Unfortunately, with Passover coming up and its special dietary laws, we should be running down stocks of ordinary food and laying in stocks of Passover food. We’ve mostly done the latter, but should really be running things down more rather than stocking up for the meantime. Meanwhile, it looks like Mum might have to self-isolate for twelve weeks because she has cancer. We aren’t sure what the rest of us will have to do in that time. Obviously, we can’t stock three months’ worth of food (even Mum’s Jewish Mother Syndrome would admit defeat there) and would have to rely on outside help if we’re all expected to self-isolate for that long.

It is scary.  I don’t have a clue if we have the right stocks for this kind of thing and I’m pretty sure we don’t have enough of them.  Bread, for example, only lasts about a week in our house and has to be repurchased weekly (and that’s not even challot for Shabbat, the sweet, fluffy loaves eaten on the Sabbath that are generally sold only on Thursday or Friday).  Milk doesn’t last long either.  We do sometimes freeze bread and milk (although I think defrosted milk is horribly watery), but we’re clearing spaces in our freezer for Pesach (Passover) food.  I don’t know what to do.  We do have quite a bit of toilet paper at least as Dad generally insists on having a lot in the house even without COVID-19 and panic buying.

As I mentioned before, my parents do at least have lots of local friends in their shul (synagogue) community, and I have a few, so we could probably find help if we need it, plus we could always ask the rabbis to help organise something for us.  This is, some would say, exactly the type of situation that close-knit religious communities are supposed to help with.  I just feel bad about asking for help when we can’t reciprocate.  I feel that because of my “issues” I’m always taking and never giving, even without coronavirus, and that doesn’t feel good.

I’m worried if I should even be hugging my Mum right now.  I don’t think she could cope with three months of total isolation while she’s going through so much difficult emotional and physical stuff.  I did speak to Mum about this.  She thinks it’s only people with specific cancers or advanced cancers who are going to be told to self-isolate for twelve weeks and she’s hopeful that she wouldn’t be in that group, as breast cancer is regarded as highly treatable and her specific cancer is not so far advanced.  I hope she is right.  It is a difficult situation for anyone in it.

***

I’m just feeling overwhelmed with coronavirus and Pesach and I have been struggling to find time for things like exercise and working on my novel.  My rabbi said to use the time we are isolated wisely.  He even suggested writing a book (although I imagine he meant a book of Torah thoughts rather than a novel as in my case), but I don’t know how people find the time/energy.  Admittedly most people are probably not struggling with depression and a mother with cancer.

My hands are getting chapped from washing so much.  I tend to get chapped hands in the winter anyway, even while moisturising, but I think they will get worse before they get better.  My hands aren’t as badly chapped as has happened in the past (thank you Aveeno Skin Relief), but they hurt a bit and that’s going to get worse as we get closer to Pesach and I start washing my hands all the time as I go from chametz (normal food) to Pesach food and preparations (although at least it will be hygienic).  Maybe there’s an element of stress there too – Mum is prone to stress-related eczema.  I don’t get that so much, but I remember before my BA finals I came out in skin problems on my feet.  (It’s ironic that just a few weeks ago I thought I was washing my hands too much from fear of ritual food contamination/religious OCD and wondered if I should be consciously trying to wash my hands less frequently as exposure therapy.)

***
People were davening (praying) en masse in the garden next door again today.  I’m really not sure what to do about it.  E. thinks I should say something, but the consensus among commenters here was against it.  I’m just terrified one of them will have COVID-19 and spread it somehow to Mum.  Actually, forget COVID-19, if any of them had any kind of airborne virus, even the common cold, and infected Mum that could be really bad.  But I’m not sure if that’s something one can say.

***

Stuff done today: half hour jog, an hour of Torah study, Skype E. for an hour, sorted out some kind of timetable for the next three weeks until Pesach.  Not very much, to be honest, but today was a bit of a lost day for all of us here, particularly for me after getting so exhausted shopping late last night.  I didn’t make my “No screens after 11pm” rule again, but I hope to have them all off soon after 11.30pm, which would be my best night so far (excluding Shabbat).

11 thoughts on “COVID-19 Anxieties

    1. There isn’t really a way of cancelling a Jewish festival. It’s like we think the world changes spiritually at a particular time of the year. It is possible that some festival requirements may be loosened, although probably not the kashering. Maybe if we can’t get bitter herbs, that would be loosened. But otherwise we would just have to help each other get through it.

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  1. I don’t store a lot of stuff either, which makes the unavailability of certain items frustrating and worrisome. The dietary strictures for Pesach make for an added complication and stress. You live with your mom, so hugging her/not hugging her won’t make much difference, in my opinion. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask friends in your religious community to help out/shop for you–then drop the stuff off outside. As for the 12 weeks, it’s my belief that it doesn’t have to do with the cancer itself, but instead with the chemo depressing your mom’s immune system. Since that will make her more susceptible to infections/viruses, I think her isolation critical. Just my opinion though.

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  2. I’m sorry this is producing such worry for you – I understand totally, my Mom has cancer too and is on chemo so she’s terrified of getting sick. It’s hard to see her so scared 😦

    I’m glad you got a few things done today and it’s nice your Rabbi told you to use the time wisely, just remember it’s okay if you don’t! This is tough and it sucks, there doesn’t have to be a big meaning or purpose to your time, just get through it as best you can ❤

    Wishing you the best and good health!!

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